BILLINGS - A former Signal Peak mining executive admitted Thursday in federal court that he conspired with other mine employees to conceal on-the-job worker injuries at the Roundup mine, U.S. Attorney Leif M. Johnson said in a news release.
Dale Lee Musgrave, 52, of Pompeys Pillar, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to submit false statements in records. He faces a maximum five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.
As part of a plea agreement, federal prosecutors agreed to drop two counts of cocaine trafficking, one count of false statements in mine records and one count of false statement at sentencing if a judge accepts the agreement.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Timothy J. Cavan presided. Musgrave was released pending further proceedings. A sentencing date will be scheduled before U.S. District Judge Susan P. Watters.
Musgrave was the vice president of underground operations at the Signal Peak mine and in charge of all underground mining operations from 2013 to 2019. During that time, he directed employees to lie about on-the-job injuries and failed to properly report the incidents to federal regulators, according to prosecutors.
In 2018, Musgrave called a worker from the hospital where he was receiving treatment for a crushed finger. He told the worker to claim he was injured at home and promised to make it worth his while, according to prosecutors.
Musgrave also never reported the incident to the federal Mining, Safety and Health Administration.
In 2019, Musgrave handled the injury of another employee in a similar manner. The employee hurt his leg when debris from the mine fell on him, and Musgrave and other employees at the mine, including the victim, all agreed to say the worker was hurt outside of work.
The ruse continued for several days, including lying to the treating physician until other employees at Signal Peak reported the incident to the Mining, Health and Safety Administration. The problems surrounding Musgrave were uncovered during an investigation into overall corruption among Signal Peak executives.
In October, the company pleaded guilty to four counts of willful violation of health and safety standards, a misdemeanor, related to the incidents involving Musgrave. Signal Peak Energy agreed to pay a total fine of $1 million and be sentenced to probation. Sentencing is pending.
The investigation also resulted in individual convictions of former mine officials and other individuals in associated cases.